Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, James said that he is grateful to be able to give back to the community.
The inaugural class of LeBron James' I Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, was left stunned when they were recently surprised with some life-changing news. All 193 students in the batch—currently high school juniors—have been offered free tuition to Kent State University, lifting the nightmarish financial burden that stands in the way of many hoping to pursue higher education. The teens, who were given the exciting news during an 11th-grade experience outing to the university, erupted in cheers when informed of the unbelievable opportunity. Meanwhile, a few parents who were watching a live feed of the announcement in a separate room, couldn't hold back their tears.
According to CNN, speaking to reporters after the Lakers defeated the Nuggets in overtime in Denver on Wednesday, James said, "We have so many options, and I just know that so many kids in my community just don't have many options. So for me to be able to be in a position where I can give these kids options to decide what they want to do with their future, it's probably the best thing I've ever done." The renowned athlete had previously promised free tuition to the University of Akron when the I Promise school opened its doors in 2018. He told reporters this week that his school has a great relationship with both Kent State and the University of Akron and that he's grateful to be able to give back to the community.
Meanwhile, in a press release this week, interim Senior Vice President and Provost Melody Tankersley praised Kent State University for working towards having a life-changing impact on the young people of Northeast Ohio. "We have already seen the impressive results that the I PROMISE Network is having on its participating students. We are so pleased that Kent State will become the next step in the educational journey of these amazing young people, and so happy that we can start them on their way to exciting careers and lives full of inspiration," she said.
Tankersley also credited the students themselves for earning the scholarship with their hard work. "This was earned. The efforts of the I PROMISE students are to be celebrated," she said, noting how diligently the children applied themselves to academics since becoming part of the first I PROMISE class as third-grade students. Michele Campbell, executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation, also thanked Kent State for helping make this amazing opportunity a reality for the teens.
"The I PROMISE program is built on the ‘earned, not given’ philosophy. We are so excited that our students that have worked incredibly hard have earned even more life-changing opportunities to grow and excel. We are so thankful to the entire Kent State family for believing in our students and providing exactly the type of programming and support they need to be successful not only in school but in life," said Campbell.
A new program born out of an existing partnership between Kent State and the @LJFamFoundation will allow all eligible students in the oldest I PROMISE Network class to be guaranteed free tuition for four years and one year of free room and meal plan. https://t.co/CsXiIautrV pic.twitter.com/fA03bKLxvW— Kent State (@KentState) February 12, 2020
In addition to guaranteed free tuition for four years, the students will also be provided one year of a free room and meal plan. They will be eligible for the package as college freshmen for the 2021-2022 academic year and will be required to be admitted to the university, fill out required financial aid forms, and have completed a required number of community service hours every semester. Students will also need to remain in good academic standing to stay eligible and also have to complete a minimum number of credit hours per year.
"We are so pleased to take our partnership with the LeBron James Family Foundation to this next level and welcome these students fully into the Kent State family," said Kent State President Todd Diacon. "Kent State looks forward to the time when our campus is teeming with I Promise students."